Local commissioners in some areas are likely to ignore NICE recommendations to fund a test for bowel cancer in low-risk patients and instead wait until a more accurate test is available, the RCGP’s lead on cancer has predicted.
Dr Richard Roope, a GP in Hampshire who is also a clinical lead for Cancer Research UK, said the advice to use faecal occult blood testing (FOBT) to help diagnose bowel cancer ‘was ‘controversial’ and he expected many CCGs to wait until the more accurate faecal immunochemical test (FIT) comes on stream next year.
Dr Roope’s comments come after the lead clinical advisor on the NICE cancer guidelines criticised commissioners in some areas for not allowing GPs to order the test – contrary to NICE guidelines .
NICE recommends it should be use it to help rule out a diagnosis of colorectal cancer in patients who have some symptoms but are not considered at high enough risk to be referred for further investigations.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event on cancer services, Dr Roope said: ‘The faecal occult blood test [issue] is quite controversial – quite a lot of areas in the country had actually dropped them and for the last ten years we as GPs had been trying to encourage our colleagues not to use them.’
He added: ‘Where the service is not available, that will be for local discussions to work out how to take that forward. But within the next year or so, there will be a move towards a slightly different diagnostic process called FIT which is much more specific and much more accurate, so I suspect there will be some areas that will just bide their time and just introduce FIT in due course.’